Students with Learning Differences use accommodations to access grade level coursework. This might include having text read aloud, extended time on tests, or presenting information in multiple modalities. With the onset of the spread of COVID-19, many schools have switched to remote learning plans that are based on Independent Study Plans that are totally unrealistic for students with learning differences.
Students who struggle with executive functioning, working memory issues, dyslexia or ADHD are facing huge hurdles when it comes to the new normal of remote learning.
“Under federal law, these students are eligible for special education services designed to help them succeed in school. But those services are not always easily transferable to distance learning, or even in-person learning with social distancing.” Compound this with the challenge teachers face leading upwards of 30 students in each class. It’s almost guaranteed that some students will slip between the cracks.
At Bayhill, we do things differently. Keeping class sizes super small has always been a priority for us. Because of this, each teacher, case manager and administrator is truly able to get to know each student that they work with. Our team’s focus is understanding student strengths and student needs, so that we can come up with systems and tools to help them absorb and retain the material presented.
Here’s a glimpse into our new reality of online teaching the Bayhill way. Our expert teachers have innovated their curriculum and built brand new virtual experiences for their students to continue to engage each and every one of our diverse learners — accommodating their needs and teaching them the way they learn best.
Keeping our community close.
We know that all of this social distancing can be difficult for teens who especially rely on relationships with friends, teachers, coaches and community for healthy growth and development. We knew we’d have to go to great lengths to keep our community intact.
Our staff has been offering socially-distanced hikes for former and current students. Teachers have been delivering care packages, books, plants and treats to our students who live all over the Bay Area. We’re keeping Bayhill connected through our blog. We publish here to keep families informed, share tips and tricks and to celebrate each little victory.
Another way we engage online is through social media. Many former and current students follow our Instagram account. Parents too! We’re always sharing here, getting student feedback, asking questions, checking in and making space for each other here. You can also find us on Facebook.
Each of our students are still getting face-to-face time with their teachers and TAs for full class periods everyday online. There’s an extended break between each so that students can either get extra assistance, grab a snack, get some fresh air or take a stretch break before their next class begins.
Fostering academic engagement remotely.
Our teachers keep helpful documents and resources at everyone’s fingertips in their virtual classrooms, where they meet their students each day. These virtual classrooms help students stay organized and on task while teachers present information in multiple modalities. Virtual classrooms allow students to automatically connect to assistive technology as they complete their assignments. For example, teachers can link important documents with Kami to create an engaging and collaborative learning environment.
Assistive Technology Integration.
Kami tools boost students’ creativity by allowing them to draw freely and annotate with a selection of colors, shapes and text sizes. Students can easily complete tasks and save files with Kami’s Google Classroom integration. These collaborative tools encourage active, real-time participation in the classroom. In Kami, students can easily access the text-to-speech function and have any material read to them aloud.
Built into our teachers’ virtual classrooms is gamification — allowing students to absorb and process information in new ways — and brain breaks — zones for mindful movement, warm fuzzies and creative expression.
In Dr. Rasmussen’s virtual English classroom, students can access their Essay Manual which breaks down each phase of writing an essay into simple steps. They can click straight to No Fear Shakespeare where they can find reading assignments in plain contemporary English alongside the original Shakespearean text. It also includes supplementary notes and analysis to deepen the reader’s comprehension of the plays.
Want to learn how to help your child do the best they can in this new digital landscape? Read our blog post, Distance Learning Tips and Tricks for Parents. Stay tuned for more on our remote teaching strategies and how we equip students with learning differences for success in high school, college and beyond.